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More and more pet professionals (breeders, veterinarians, and pet nutritionists) are advocating a second look at what we feed our dogs and cats. This is because there is a growing belief that our animals need a raw, natural diet in order to be healthy. Simply put, commercial pet foods do not supply the nutrients that are necessary for optimal health and longevity.

What is the Ancestral Diet?

Steve Brown, a renowned dog nutrition expert, raw dog food formulator, and top-selling author of his two books “Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet” and “See Spot Live Longer” says it best…

You may have heard of the popular “Caveman Diet”, as it applies to humans, the theory being that unprocessed fresh foods high in protein and low in carbohydrates are best for people who evolved successfully over thousands and thousands of years consuming just such a diet. The concept of the “Canine Ancestral Diet” for dogs is similar in nature.
Dogs and other candis evolved successfully through hunting and scavenging; consuming foods that were not at all like the kibble so many are fed today. Recent nutritional science increasingly supports an ancestral-type diet – high protein, balanced fats, and at least some fresh foods – as the healthiest approach to feeding most dogs.

There is a huge difference in the amount of key ingredients found between the Ancestral Diet and any typical, modern dry dog food.

Ancestral Diet

Typical dry dog food diet

Furchild Raw Meals are formulated to provide the complete balance of an Ancestral Diet while ensuring the advances made in veterinary nutritional science.

Ancestral Diet

Furchild meals

Important components in the Ancestral Diet

49% of the calories in the Ancestral Diet were from protein, primarily from fresh animal sources. Protein from animals, unlike protein from most plants, contains balanced amino acids and a complete range of protein-type nutrients, including taurine and carnitine.

Protein is arguably the most important nutrient in your pet’s diet. Protein is responsible for building and repairing muscles and tissues and for providing the structure for skin, hair, nails, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and muscle fibers.

But it isn’t just the amount of protein that’s important – it’s the quality. Much has been written in the past about protein quality. There are many factors that can turn an otherwise high-quality protein into unhealthy food that contributes to inflammation and chronic disease.

Pet owners need to be aware that the meat used in most modern commercial dog foods are usually low quality and low quantities in comparison to what is considered optimal. Read, ‘Comparing Types of Pet Foods’ for more information on this topic.

Both the amount of fat and the balance of fats is very important. Fats represent a broad category of nutrients, just as vitamins and minerals are broad categories. Dogs need to consume the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals, all in a proper balance. Similarly, it is very important that dogs consume a variety of fatty acids – the basic components of fat – in proper amounts and balance. In an Ancestral Diet, the ration of omega-6s to omega-3s was between 2:1 and 6:1, within the range now considered optimum by most pet nutritionists.

By contrast, dogs today do not normally get access to such a wide range of balance of fats. Most typical commercial pet foods have fats that are unbalanced, incomplete, and, at times, rancid fats. Read, ‘Comparing Types of Pet Foods’ for more information on this topic. Poorly balanced fats are one of the major problems almost all commercial and most homemade dog foods experience.

The scientific evidence is overwhelming – dogs who eat the proper amounts of balanced fats, with a complete range of fatty acids, are healthier and happier. These dogs…

  • learn faster,
  • remember more,
  • see and hear better,
  • less skin, coat, and other inflammatory problems
  • more coordinated
  • less likely to be obese
  • probably live longer than dogs who do not consume a proper balance of fats.

Because of the predominance of meat in the dog’s Ancestral Diet, carbohydrates provided only 6% of the calories consumed by the dog’s Ancestral diet. Primarily from fruit, grasses, and vegetables. This is substantially below what the typical modern dog consumes which can be as high as 60-80%! Feeding your pet a diet high in carbohydrates has many negative long-term health implications. Learn more about this by reading our Furchild: Returning to Raw booklet – “The Carbohydrate Problem”

The large majority of foods in an Ancestral Diet were fresh whole foods. Modern dogs, like people, need some fresh whole foods. Many studies have indicated that vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from whole foods are more nutritious than the synthesized or refined forms found in most dog foods. Refined nutrients (as opposed to fresh foods) have a role in preventing deficiency diseases but are not sufficient for the best health. They lack the cancer-fighting nutrients found in vegetables and fruit.

While the ancestral diet itself did not contain high amounts of fiber (defined as a carbohydrate), it did contain small amounts of fur and other indigestible parts of the dog’s prey, which served a similar purpose.

The Ancestral Diet consisted of live prey which was made up of 78% moisture. That’s a lot of moisture! Most pets that consume dry foods and drink frequently from their water bowl aren’t getting adequate levels of water. Furthermore, the moisture content found in the ancestral diet contains many dissolve vitamins and minerals that are not found in plain H2O.

Hydration is very important for your pet because…

  • Maintains stable, normal body temperature.
  • Aids in digestion – getting food through the body and helping to absorb the nutrition within the food.
  • Lubricating healthy joints – especially important for large breeds and senior dogs.
  • Maintains healthy functioning organs and literally prevents them from shutting down.

Our pet’s digestion is a moisture intensive process, from saliva to gastric juices. Our pet’s body will pull this moisture from other tissues and organs if necessary, leaving less moisture temporarily available for flushing toxins and general hydration.

What is the difference between Dogs & Cats

Ancestral Diet for Dogs

A Historical Perspective – The scientific name for dogs is, ‘Canis lupus familiaris’. Scientists believe that dogs were domesticated from grey wolves thousands of years ago and still share 99% of their DNA. Despite the fact that their phenotype (outer characteristics) have been altered by humans, their genotype (internal body structure and functions) remains unchanged. In nature dogs’ ancestors would eat anything from whole wild prey to insects, fruits, and vegetables. A dog is classified somewhere in-between carnivores and omnivores, with clear carnivore preferences.

Your dog is a hunter and scavenger requiring biologically or species-appropriate foods in order to maintain optimal health – raw meat, raw bones, organs, and a small amount of vegetation and fruit. It’s common sense that feeding a raw diet returns modern-day dogs to this more natural and healthy form of nutrition as if they had hunted and caught their “perfect” dinner.

The Ancestral Diet for Cats

In the case of the cat, which is an obligate carnivore and a hunter, the biologically appropriate diet is based largely upon animal-derived foods. Basically, nutrition can be derived from whole fresh raw carcasses. Feeding your cat raw, fresh, and appropriate species is the best way to mimic the menu that nature intended for true carnivores.

Anatomy of Dogs & Cats

To prove that our Dogs and Cats are meant to eat biologically appropriate foods let’s take a brief look at the biology of our pets…

  • The structure of their jaws move up and down and their sharp interlocking teeth are designed to rip, tear and shred flesh. The muscles that control the jaws are some of the most powerful muscles in their entire body. Their teeth are not flat and they cannot move their jaws sideways like a herbivore (cow, horse, etc…) to grind plant matter.
  • Human saliva contains water and the amylase enzyme that begins starch digestion. However, dogs have a very limited ability to produce amylase, and cats cannot produce amylase. Our pet’s saliva serves as a lubricant to facilitate food swallowing.

In our pets, most of their digestion takes place in the stomach where the environment is highly acidic with pH levels of 1-2. Most enzymes are sensitive to pH and are destroyed in environments where the levels are unsuitable. Adding grains and unnatural ingredients or chemicals can alter the levels of pH and negatively impact the ability to absorb nutrients from foods as they digest. Certain foods that are easy to digest by humans may be difficult or impossible to digest by our pets.

Dogs and cats have a short gastrointestinal tract that is designed to process and absorb the nutrients in raw foods efficiently. In contrast, the much longer intestines of a human or a cow are suited for the further digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and other food sources. For example, the canine digestive tract is much shorter (20-80 cm compared to 1.5 m for you) so the food stays for a much shorter time in your dog’s system. Average passing time is only 24-48 hours, whereas it can take you up to three days. The faster dog digestion also contributes to their resistance to bacteria.

In an Ancestral Diet of dogs and cats, the foods consumed were high in moisture (78%) whereas today’s processed dry kibbles diet is much lower (10-12% moisture). Higher levels of moisture help our pets by mechanically stimulating the stomach and the intestine, which results in healthier digestion.

Modern-day pet owners have busy schedules and preparing such diets similar to an Ancestral Diet can prove to be quite difficult.

But Furchild has changed that!

We have made it simple and convenient to feed your beloved animals
the raw food they need to live full, vital, and longer lives.

Start your pet on a species-appropriate diet

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